For official use only
(Circulated only for countries where foodcrops or supply situation conditions give rise to concern)
Substantially below normal rainfall since last October is expected to significantly reduce output of the main "Maha" rice crop, which is normally harvested until March. Important rice producing areas in north-western and north-central parts of the country were worst affected, particularly the districts of Kurunegala, Anuradhapura and Puttalam, which have received less than half the normal rainfall from the northeastern monsoon.
Production is forecast to decline mainly in rainfed areas, on minor irrigation schemes and in two parts (G and principally H) of the main Mahaweli irrigation scheme, where unconfirmed reports suggest output could decline by as much as 40 to 50 percent. In some parts, the use of water from dams for crop irrigation is being rationed to preserve supplies for drinking water, especially in areas with large numbers of internally displaced people, and for generation of electricity. The Government recently formed an Inter-Ministerial Committee on drought to monitor the situation and assist affected farmers in parts of the country.
The official forecast of production is not yet available, but latest indications suggest that paddy output from the current "Maha" crop is unlikely to exceed 1.4 million tons, some 300 000 to 400 000 tons less than last year and well below average.
Early prospects for the secondary "Yala" rice crop, which is planted from April and normally accounts for one third of production, are also unfavourable as low irrigation supplies are expected to result in a reduction in the area planted.
At present the overall food supply situation remains satisfactory, reflecting good rice harvests in the past two years and adequate Government held stocks. Nonetheless, the unfavourable outlook for crops in 1995/96, which has already caused a steady increase in prices in recent weeks, suggests that rice imports in 1996 will be substantially higher than in the proceeding two years.
The situation is being closely monitored by GIEWS and further developments in the food supply situation and crop prospects will be communicated as appropriate.
Approximately one third of the "Maha" crop is rainfed, with the remainder irrigated. In the period 1990 to 1994 the total annual production of paddy averaged 2.5 million tons, some two thirds of which was accounted for by the main "Maha" crop. Average annual cereal imports during the period 1991 to 1995, amounted to around 938 000 tons, including 763 000 tons of wheat and the remainder mostly of rice.
Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, ESCG, FAO, (Telex 610181 FAO I; Fax: 0039-6-5225-4495, E-Mail (INTERNET): GIEWS1@FAO.ORG) for further information if required.
FA 4/50 SRI LANKA